Joseph Luzzi | The Presidents’ Book Club

Books that shaped Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, Kennedy and more…

Award-winning Bard College Literature Professor Joseph Luzzi will guide us through a fascinating “Presidents’ Library,” as he explores the books that shaped six of the most powerful men to occupy the Oval Office.

Luzzi, who has carefully studied the reading habits of past presidents, says some of the nation’s most popular presidents share a common trait: all were voracious readers. “We can establish a connection between great readers and great leaders,” says Luzzi.

Thomas Jefferson had the largest personal library in the country by the time the British burned much of Washington in 1814. His books replaced those destroyed in the Library of Congress.

And two of Barack Obama’s favorite authors, Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison, inspired generations of African-Americans, including the former president.

Luzzi will discuss other presidents’ reading habits as well, including Abraham Lincoln’s obsession with Shakespeare and John F. Kennedy’s devotion to former spy and novelist Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond. And JFK obsessively turned to his beloved history books to help make informed political decisions, and to shape his own writing.

Luzzi says reading literature is challenging today, when some people spend many hours on social media. “It takes concentration. You kind of have to shut out the world a little bit. That puts a challenge on readers.”

Together, we will see how presidential action and presidential reading are intimately linked, as we explore the momentous events in these presidents’ lives in light of the books that inspired their thoughts and guided their actions.

Join us for Professor Luzzi’s engaging, entertaining and informative event.

This event is sponsored by One Day University.


Joseph-Luzzi-Woodstock-Bookfest-2019Joseph Luzzi is a Literature and Italian Professor at Bard College, and was previously a Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received the Scaglione Prize for his teaching. He is also the author of the audio course, “The Art of Reading.” Professor Luzzi previously taught at Yale University, where he was awarded a Yale College Teaching Prize.


Get a Full Festival pass and you’ll get to take in the Story Slam on Thursday night. Then sail into the weekend: attending all the wonderful panels, breakfast, both Little Bites and Big Libations Cocktail Parties, and both evening events. And share the bounty from our always-stuffed goody bag.

Or treat yourself to The Whole Shebang for $450. Here’s what you’ll get:

All of the above PLUS the One Day Intensive of your choice.

Kleinert/James Center
34 Tinker Street
Woodstock
Sunday March 31, 2019
11:30AM